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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  August 25, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm EDT

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this week joshue dubler and his latest book "down in the chapel: religious life in an american prison". he experiences a week in the lives of christian and muslim prisoners to make their way through the graterford prison chapel. he discusses the place of religion and rehabilitation and incarceration. the program is about an hour. >> good afternoon. so does not have a conversation with you. what might be seen as an opportune moment. this is the year where there has been much discussion, different sorts of the place of presence in american society in the contemporary moment, i think, in particular on one hand of michele alexander is the new jim crow. more recently and was introduced
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through colleagues to the netflix phenomenon, oranges the new black. on one hand the polemic against mass incarceration and on the other hand the personal story of an interesting entree into the prison system. and i think in many ways your book makes -- is able to do both the rich detail experience of human description and weigh in against the system as it were. wondering how you see your boat and where it might fit in that landscape. >> host: and we are speaking today, a day after eric holder won on the record about mandatory minimum and federal courts declared stop and frisk to be unconstitutional. some momentum is gathering. you know, i think the structure and agency as interdependent, it
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would be messianic to think that my book on its own could raise consciousness. there clearly seems to be a current. i would hope that my book could contribute to a dawning sense of how we do criminal-justice is somewhat in st. and the moral tragedy. with respect to where -- i have not seen orange is the new black get, but where is it on the spectrum? it is very much about the everyday. in fact, of the two men who read my manuscript repeatedly, they might have been a little frustrated at times, but it was not more explicitly policy oriented. i do think there are some policy conclusions that the book makes irresistible, and i would hope that readers would come to that on their own. >> i hope that we can talk about
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the way in which you raise criticisms that invite discussions about solutions. what strikes me, the urgency of the our often overrides the complexity that your story invites. our armor couple years ago i had the chance to do a study of the same thing. all the founders wanted to know how we explain why they have low reentry numbers. meanwhile, long stories of individuals' lives, how they may sense of their experience prior to and within. i want to get there, but your story always invites us to lender with the complexities. mary we could start, although it is not a story about you, it is your story of your experience. it is more than a dissertation. even for me it in your first response, how did you come to write this wonderful book about
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graterford, this particular present? >> i tend to think that people are largely a product of the circumstances because i myself am so acutely a product of my circumstances. those two, incarceration on the one hand to my child growing up in new york in the 1980's and 90's at a time when the american prison population is exploding, my mother worked rikers island. so i was aware from my young time and a young age about the phenomenon. i was always drawn and horrified by it in the way that one is drawn to something like a vocation. as for the other piece, i think religious studies is populated by people who tend to be
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emphatically ambivalence. i fit into that category. there was raised an orthodox jew , although it did not figure that out until later. in fact, my orientation both through judea's a man through american social justice, very ethically minded. a talk about it in the book. the commands that pertain to one's relationship to the almighty and his fellow man and woman. i have always been on the latter half of the spectrum. that said, i say in the book that to honor the complexity of the world with my descriptions as a scholar and the way is a bet as the logical as i get.
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i feel like my allegation is to try to do them justice. i hope to repay the debt. as a scholar incentive would a certain kind of violence when we erase that complexity. >> your reticent to make any sort of large claim. you take a direction that seems to be a clear engagement. so throughout the book and the direction of a larger interpretation you outline ten theses. tell us a little bit about the men will roll the play for you and how they inform your engagement with the details of these men's lives.
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>> right. a little bit of background in case of your has not read it. the book is structured narrative the over seven days. that was born in response to this week of events such a place in the chapel over which 12 different groups have 55 different worship sessions, bible study, musical, rehearsals i did it as an experiment, to be there for seven days. and that became the spine of the book. as the dissertation stage, i was mulish insistent that the book would be something like a dog mine 95 film. i don't know if you remember, movies that don't use any extra artifice where they don't use any external lighting, music. i wanted everything to be in the narrative frame, including my here is asian, my the essential character of the book, me, a
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scholar of religion. i bring that perspective to bear on the conversations. for a long time the book was largely within the frame. when i came to work with an editor and paul ely, he was productively -- he pushed me for more. he wanted more. he thought i owed it to the reader. i came to decide that he was absolutely right. i wrote for him and document. this was back in the summer of 2010. i wrote this document ranging from the genealogical talking about experienced a practice still trying to of encapsulate what about these men's practices is prototypical the american.
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and tried a number of perspectives, some of which mutually conflict. so i wrote that for him. and i wanted to keep it a part of the book, but in the book. so you have the seven days. also a lot of analysis that takes place. sometimes the sky joshua is a narrator, sometimes by what is obviously a later josh. then you also have these pcs that in some ways ban in opposition navy to the way that theology stands in opposition to certain kinds of religious practice on the one hand you have this kind of day in the outflow of complexity. messy and some of is tabstractis material. then you have these pcs that attempt to encapsulate what is going on but are intended to stand in tension with the seven days. >> well, you mentioned that the
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publisher of -- landreau it is very much a religious studies training that you bring to bear in your conversations, you have opted for a genre that sort of pushes the standard academic monograph. i wonder if with your commitment to capturing the complexity in addition to these conversations, was there something about creative nonfiction more so than a standard monograph you felt help to -- help the sort of story you were trying to tell? >> i don't want to sound like dow was trying to reinvent the wheel or that i did reinvent the wheel. the field of american religion and especially america is so open and forman the method. that did not have to topple any giant to write this book. i received a lot of support. that said, there is a kind of
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protest against the standards of academic argumentation, for the reasons that i suggested earlier what i know about people, what makes people interesting, what makes people lovable. it's difficult to capture that with an academic -- with the scholarly arguments. it is precisely where people who violate your expectations of them, disappointed your supposition that they become interesting in a way that we turned to literature. our reason that when i want to no people intimately, i will turn. so that is part of it. the other part of it will be a kind of a static concern. the other part is ethical. and this is rare really hope that this book is received by
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our style of a community as scholarship which is that there is a kind of fun fought plane necessarily it seems to me that to be in an academic conversation binds you often to the following relationships to the people you write about. you go out, have this conversation, and have an empirical encounter with people. you come back and continue the conversation. the people in some way become reduced to data. what's produced as those of us to think in those of us to write about and those of us who are thought of and written about. especially when dealing with the kinds of problems of power that come with writing about prisoners, i really wanted to write a book in which my interlocutors with primarily not necessarily bees dollars in the field, although it's the field that makes me the person who i am, but really the man that i met at graterford and to have my
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perspective pitted against their perspective and to see what happens. >> well, that is actually a perfect segue -- segue to begin to think about not just of framing the bank to the book, but to talk about the lives and the institutions that are central to the book. and places you're clear the you're not trying to tell a story about prison, religion, a grand sense, but you're talking about religion in a particular time and place. tell us about graterford, which some could argue that in itself in a landscape of american prisons and history is a sort of sacred space that has this special visitor, on one hand the renowned boxer, bernard hopkins, but also this visit from muhammed. tell us about graterford, this institution outside of philadelphia. >> right. certainly there are some amazing things that have happened there over the years, but its pedigree , is, if you were trying
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to make it the microcosm, it comes from the fact that eastern state penitentiary over in downtown philadelphia which is really the prototype of the modern penitentiary, when it closes down in 1971 its prisoners and many of its staff go to graterford. graterford opened in 1922, it's sort of be in character from east and space. so we're talking about eastern state, quakers, the rising a kind of solitary confinement where people who have become corrupted can be put in privacy with the maker. so if i was thinking about the sacred space in the history of american present, that is the connection that i would draw. today it is an old institution. so and -- pennsylvania has built
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more than 20 persons in the last 30 years. graterford is an old somewhat unwieldy institution. it houses something like 30500 men. of those four facts are the general population prisoner. of them may be 700 a man who are serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. in pennsylvania if your sent to live here not eligible for parole. that is really the culture of the book, determined by these men, the ones who are disproportionately active and who almost exclusively of the once you work in the chapel. so in the chapel you have the five chaplains to work there, the two correctional officers. fifteen prisoners to work there as clerks and janitors. so while i began my research
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during a kinder participant observation and the sides of the religious practice explicitly, my deepest relationships were forged with these men who work in the chapel with themselves are also participants in these practices. that's why they choose to have the chapel job. they are offered as day and day out just kind of hanging out. >> is not a particular service. between the activities of maintaining the chapel. and they are some characters that you develop real, live relationships with. you talk about pushing back against the subject and a scholar through this approach. tell us about your not in performance, which would both agree is of the term, but who is named in the book baca. at thank you describe him as interesting. is that right? what differentiated him and why he came to be the person you developed the most deep
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relationship with. tell us about him. how did that relationship develop? how did he come to be the one he spent most of the time with? >> you identify what i think is the key passage of the book where you identify him as someone who is interesting in a world where so many of these seven and a struggling so hard to be good. about something somewhat different. more mischievous them that. more skeptical of what the value of being good is in a day and age where there is no possibility of parole. i think that he chose me more than i chose him. he was curious. he was there in the chapel. he kind of took me under wing.
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one of the kind of dominant tenors of these relationships, especially with barack and, the kind of paternal relationship. even though i was 30 years old at the time was doing my fieldwork and maybe i was young, and the chapel 30 his young. i mean to most of these men are in their 40's, 50's's, or even 60's. more than that, i'm 30, and secular. i'm like a let's ask questions. i don't know what's true about the world. that is very different than the way of being in the world that dominates their where you know what you are and what you're about and is important for your survival on earth and their everlasting life. so the kind of took me under wing. call an early on my dissertation adviser. he really liked that kind of play of being the one who introduces me to what is going on in the chapel and being that
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kind of primary interpreter. he himself is very unique in the book and different and a lot of ways and other characters. he is a person serving life without parole. been in prison -- and i have been alive. it seems to me that is insane policy. he is someone who is convicted of homicide. he claims he did not do it. he is in prison for 40 years. he was in the nation of islam going up. he has that kind of self-help group of lift kind of attitude. he is frustrated by kind of the people who kowtowed to orthodoxy . he wants people to live up to their potential. so he is perpetually kind of frustrated by his fellow man. he is a stoic. he quotes marcus aurelius. he is somewhat irregular.
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he likes to say things, at least to me. i think he has a lot of these relationships with young men. know who you are and let the world figure you out. he is something of a holdover. one of the stories that the book tells, a time pram well beyond the seven day is about the evolution of the islamic. while i assume that most people watching, i kind of assumption about what it looks like, the thing that it is political, sociologically minded. they're thinking malcolm x, but actually that quick is kind of at least in 2006, 2007, maybe things a changing now, that was kind of a dying breed. the kind that once tough play black nationalist notes of won't talk about economic empowerment. the dominant kind of motive muslim at graterford, many identified as fallacy, and they
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are about getting the right and getting the processes of islam right. and they -- some of these are either at the logical resentments costs sociological that go back generations between these two subcultures, but they think that that nation, even after 75 when elijah muhammed guys in these men becomes any muslims. their religious what that is about instrumental eyes and religion for the purpose of politics is essentially a was from a. so the dominant muslim of among muslims is much more doctrinaire , figure out what the right answers are, try to execute all your practices according to the right doctrine. and he is this kind of -- is different. i created the world and set have
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vetted. >> absolutely. he is the foil to any sort of narrow notion of men in prison attempting to be good. the menu are charged and terry with overseeing not good. you tell the story of correctional officers. tell us about these men who are charged with overseeing the implementation of good or rehabilitation. >> right. much like a prisoner who comes to work in the chapel, the correctional officers that come to work in the chapel have also bid for those posts. they want to have that particular job and probably want to have it because they themselves are men who are actively engaged in errorless walk. i don't take them to take their task as having anything to do with rehabilitation. you know, something that is
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surprising in the book, i think, is that the kind of general tone of the day-to-day relationships of the correctional officers, of the chaplain, of the prisoners is essentially that of colleagues. you know, everyone knows that there are protocols to observe, and everyone is pretty scrupulous to try not to screw up in a way that will make their lives more complicated. but i don't think that they and day out the correctional officers are seeing the prisoners as people that need their be debilitating if efforts . the chaplain also, there rely a lot on the chapel workers. in general there are moments where, as happens in the book on tuesday, there is this kind of resurgence of something like criminality and suspicion that throws everything off because
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everyone suddenly remembers we're in a prison and you are free and i'm a prisoner. in the day and day out there all kind of working a job, eight hours at a time. >> this could be the office. i mean, i think that is one of the powerful ways and which she tell the story. the reader can forget for a moment. folks are talking about movie deals. this is -- anything could be at stake, and we could be anywhere. at the same time we are in graterford. >> it is one of the ways that i -- it is one of the fears that a half from the book. and so i have tried to build some hedges against that and other places, but if i had to characterize what my experience being there day and a al west, it's perverse, but the word that i would -- if i was being totally honest the word is something like fine. i came in there. the people that have serious
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ideas about religion. coming from a different place then me. and there and want to mix it up. it was something like fun. when i was around it was something like fun for them because they have been do this for five, ten, 15, 20, 25, 30 years. so it is a catch-22 maybe a little bit. a kind of -- there is something horrible beneath the surface, but the day and day out is playful. >> and they have a discourse. it is not simply -- at the end of the bulky talk about a perverse pleasure of someone like yourself and feels call to do the work, but the man and all the different stations, but especially the prisoners have a discourse on pleasure c'mon play. they -- even how freedom figures into that. and that is tied to this religious story in some way. whether one is more free on the
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streets or more free in the prison. maybe you could speak a little bit about that. >> they're is a way in which teddy, one of the central characters command i think of him as the art and soul of the book, if they are these kind of aldermen in know exactly what they're all about and are always in control, he is very emotional . he is youngbear. he has -- he is undergoing a lot of feelings. he starting to think at the time of the book that he is never going to get a present, but he is the most playful in no way that i take to be -- it comes naturally to him, but it is also really generous because nobody in the world want someone who is going to up mold and bring me down. to deal to bring levity. on the freedom front with christ
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coming from here and plato coming from him, we have a lot of ways of thinking about freedom in our philosophical and religious discourses with a state of one's body alternately does not really matter that much. even the state of having a body is in itself cars row because deal to reality is somewhere else. some -- so there are a lot -- not so much among the muslims, but the christians will talk about how they're free. that is their experience, in spite of the fact that they live these incredibly regimented, constricted lives. and they certainly know that they're free relative to who they once were. so they knew what it was like to be to to drugs, they knew what it's like. they know what it's like the been caught up in the life of crime. they have been delivered from that in theay that i can't
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look. the latest talk about it, they have been delivered. is a kind of -- there was suffering. the allies are characterized by suffering. otherwise characterized by great of will tell you that every practicing christian is like this, but there are a few in the book or religious geniuses to and the wind and their experience of the world. and it's problematic the short to be done, but they do manage, particularly care another man disparaged. his ability to transform his own pain and to get to committee
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and, he knows about his freedom. >> it's almost part of your argument. william james, a particular class of folks, why not. there's a way in which the religion in your riding against is dismissed. he referred to it, the two primary paradigms', the badman religion and the poor man's religion. religion is making a larger claim. tom j-lo that about whether it's the argument that their religious geniuses with a question of sincerity. >> i come from all replace. raised by these essentially agnostic orthodox jews. it's a slight exaggerations. the more less.
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when i read it it made sense. it's secular jew. it's not about what you're pointing to. is not about god. it's about all of us during this thing here. come from a place where it's our religion. i'm not in the business of saying this is legit and this is front. but most people. so the type that i'm talking about occurs at the intersection of how we tend to think about those prisoners and religion. in fact a leitmotif is woven through, at bedtime double consciousness. double consciousness of the experience of being amused, content, and pitied. ..
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and the poor man is kind of, i call in the religious subject of the secularists imagination, which is to say, wind obama was overheard saying back in 2008, these people to cling to the guns and religion because they don't have anything else. so this kind of secularist idea that you don't have real freedom, you don't have, you're not engaged in a fulfilling practices so you have your religion. so the secularists idea lines up with the kind of well-intentioned progressive notion of what a prisoner is, which is essentially a victim of
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the system, which is someone born into the wrong body, usually black, brown and mail into the wrong circumstances, often urban poverty. and the die is cast and that's what a prisoner is. that's what i think probably my more sympathetic readers, more of my sympathetic ritual bring to the text when i think about who these men are. so then religion becomes this kind of mental -- so the bad that i say, the batman is a source the religion goes they can't possibly mean it. but the poor man, they mean it but they probably shouldn't. it would be, and these are judgments that i don't claim to stand outside of them. especially the poor man as a progressive the seasons of large as the product of his own circumstances your these are judgments that are alive and how we think about this material. somewhat the reader to encounter
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those judgments themselves. >> host: if the sympathetic reader will go with you, sort of recognize the falsehood of those claims of defining religion in those particular ways, they are maybe less sympathetic readers ritual say, well, at a certain point why doesn't josh judge this man as the murderer or the felon? when you make a decided point, that's not my business. why are where do rather than a wide, we are due the conversation get with these men, the fact that has brought them, the senior sort of decision if you will that tends to defined every discussion about them, where does that fit? >> to return to one word about t the bad men in the port and i would say less if they are wrong than their over determined. they are inevitable. it's like we have this notion the prisoner and they are products of that. so like there is a truth. there's just a truth that belongs to a whole set of historic circumstance that i
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would regard as one we should think critically about think about religion is wycombe why we think about prisoners this way. as for his crime is concerned, that was a place where i really had to wise up because i do come from a somewhat doctrinaire position that people can't be defined by virtue of the worst thing that they've done. it's, i don't look and see you and see the worst thing you've done and you don't look at me and see the worst thing i've done. done. that's unfortunate because with all done some terrible things. it came quite naturally to me for not want or be curious our integrity people about what they done to get there. but that's not the world they live in, right? what the crime was in many ways does define them, and of the men that i got to know well, most wanted to talk to me about their crime. they wanted to talking about the guy because he wanted me to no, they didn't do it or they wanted to talk to me about the crime because they wanted to know that they did do it and they take
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responsibility for it. these men are the subjects of this discourse of criminality where you docome to be defined by virtue of your crime. so most of them, obviously it's an event that defines them in so many ways and it's one they wrestle with. both in terms of how people see them and in terms of their own sense of what they have done and what they owe the world, or in terms of will they have any chance to have a get out of prison. >> host: so if we are not talking about crime and we're telling a story of religion and putting a bad man or the poor man off the table, i think at one point in the early stage of the work you present the argument to your dissertation committee that the reason why this can be dissertation and a compelling one, this department is because greater is hardly the most religiously diverse place in the universe.
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you've gestured in the direction that nearly talking about the various islam's in which barack access to tell us more about what that are listed or diverse from what that looks like. >> guest: it's a generic is ironing of the book that inside this monument to american unfreedom, not just graterford but the buildings that house 2.2 million of our fellow citizens, you do find showcased one of our cardinal freedoms that we declare in the first amendment and that is the important was an important to them about who they are. they are relied to -- their right to freedom religious exercise, the meaning in their lives, that's all very real. and it's an achievement.
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it really is an achievement, albeit a perverse one. 50 years ago at graterford you would've had the right to practice catholicism or judaism. that's what religion was. and now the prisons right movement comes rent in the '60s as the federal courts are kind of looking to play ball, in part because of the 1965 immigrants have come to the country and suddenly you have hindus and buddhists and what kind of sense will be make of all this? the prisoners bush and the courts take their side and the administration eventually give, and you do have sharing this tiny sliver of real estate. you have and protestants -- jews and protestants, sign this, seventh-day adventist, jehovah's witnesses. you have in the genealogical tree of african-american islam, you have it all there. you have the temple. you have the nation of islam
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your you have the guys, mohammad sandhu converted in 1975 and all the nation of islam converted with him and you have the fallacy. get this incredible range. what counts as religion? it's not a thing. it's all along it's been a fairly narrow template that's been applied in groups have had to make the practices come a template that has to do with i have an ultimate concern and this is what i want to do and we need to get together and do this about that. so the nation of islam would not consider themselves a religion for the purpose, for the purpose of that gain, but actually i've been, and the native american prisoners a side become because of the 1990 native american
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prisoners as the movement began to get all sorts of accommodations. them aside, yeah, it was really the '60s and '70s when almost of opened up. a bellwether case actually where that was closing down came out of graterford and that's when a couple of the members of the black nationalist sect moved who are incarcerated at graterford and say we are a religion, too, and the court said no, no, no. you are a philosophy. so they were excluded. while get these 12 groups, as you meet in the book, you meet here and there, people who practice other things that are not welcomed. there's a wiccan who there's no place made for him in the chapel. he doesn't, he professes not to mind he says in practicing h wiccan isn't in a christian chapel he says to be like eating kosher in a pork factory. spent i think you highlight the ironing, its own protestant
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history. in casting this wide spectrum, illustrating the spectrum of religious variety, you also point you mentioned earlier, wayne which in the face of this diversity, for the men, the lines are often drawn hard and fast from one tradition to the next. i want to ask you about another person who seems to suggest or a frozen with the possibility of belonging to more than one. i think it is jack the catholic considering christian science. is that right? so tell me a little bit more about jack, who is why we know the racial disparity, he's a white catholic. so against protestant schism but also thinking, embracing or courting this tradition of american utah. tell us a little bit about jack. >> guest: i think the fault lines between religious groups
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are not what i had expected and they're often interdenominational rather than interdenominational. not between -- and those fault lines actually often recapitulate other fault lines that are more sociological. they are not reducible to them, but what neighborhood you came from matters a lot for who your friends are. most people would tell me, you know, i'm not going to make friends with i got any. if i'm friends with someone if someone a new before. so religious subgroups end up in some weight recapitulating of the kinds of fault lines. as for jack, who is stuck in between, my read is that really that has a lot to do with manhood, and part of it comes from the fact that i'm this kind of younger man who is being, the
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tutelage of these older who are telling had to be in the world yet and i, that character doesn't get, or even myself, isn't fully sure how to be in the world and they're trying to school me on the. it seems like they are very american in this respect but they have tremendous confidence about the religious judgment, and they feel obligated to the religious judgments. so to be a man is to know what you're about, to know who you are, you know who your god is, you know how that truth affects your day-to-day life. and so somewhat, it is a place of this tremendous diversity and mixing, et cetera, but i think i say in the book you know, that's fine as a liminal condition, but i believe it's fairly frowned upon to be one of these people who floats between. and, in fact, who are the people
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that float between? oftentimes, this isn't true in jack's case, but the chapel workers come to chapel anytime. of the prisoners often have jobs that they're working and they can't come all the time, but there's a new site. the new side are more, not these huge ungainly tears but the smallpox that have much more control and it's where men who have certain kinds of disabilities, and especially mental disabilities, are housed not only for their own protection. and those are often the men who are floating between two or maybe a little more spiritual and open-ended and kind of want to take advantage of the few activities that are available. so they float by do think it's incumbent upon a man to know who he is and what he's about. that's how they would see it pick its compelling. i think there's something to that. i don't mean to exclude women from that, but that's where if you take that concern not as descriptive but as descriptive,
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you know, we should know what we are here for. >> host: and we should adhere to it steadfastly ass i don't know about that. >> host: that seems to be the sense of obligation, this is what i believe. >> guest: that's where i asked how much is a virtue of you being in prison but that's a story that summit of intel. and as this kind of who i am outsider, you know, a lot of men are eager to tell me what prison is about. and i appreciate that. that makes it into the book. i don't claim to ever really know what being in prison is about. but yeah, you have to, this is a place where you have to know where you're about because there are other people to want to do you want about. those people don't have your best interest in mine. that's where the survivalist manhood becomes insistent about being 1 a.m. and being fixed to what i am.
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an open question is how much is that you need to prisons? is that how most americans are who are strangely absolutists and pluralist at the same time? my truth is the one true truth i recognize your right to some wrong truth? i don't know the answer to that. >> host: absolutely. on the one hand you provide the conversation about surviving are struggling anywhere, but at the same time you come to this realization as it pertains to religion in particular that what you once thought was maybe a communism within the walls might s.o.b. just about philadelphia neighborhoods. there's these stories of new men entering the prison and somehow an older man recognizing him as the son of a former friend from elementary or high school, something like that. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about the ecology of philadelphia's graterford, the
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way in which they are always outlined in both places. >> guest: not this portrait of a communism is merely a bunch of guys hang out in neighborhoods but i think what i am freed up to do with the way that i play with the feces and analysis is excitement but it's more subjunctive, more provisional is it's also, it is muslim christian having arguments about the nature of god. it is also a bunch of guys who put together in a particular neighborhood. you know, it was one of those things i hadn't picked up on and once i picked up a they couldn't believe i hadn't picked up on it because who could be so stupid not to know? i'm sitting in the chapel one day, before friday and this guy comes up to me and says, what you need to understand to understand all this is again
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tennessee and african-american communities. this is an african-american guy. i'm used to people talk about how other people's religions our games are, in fact, religion as such, as opposed to base our relationship. that's all about games. this is the kind of evangelical discourse that looks at the sociological facts of religion and rejects it as a kind of wrong way. but he was applying to judgment, this bagman of religion judgment doing so. i found that very interesting. just what i said in his chapel it plain as day. if you look over there it's like there's north philly over there and there's south philly over there, and there's west philly over there. with the kind of strong correlation between the men in the identify as salafis, coming from the north and west and the men who are identified as coming out of the south. as i said, that recapitulates
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according to them the logic of a culture, but if i didn't know you on the outside i'm not going to get to know you now. so it reserves what you call the ecology of philadelphia. >> host: and maybe, perhaps what stands as the definitive moment before and after in the entire book in which he narrates on one hand the rise of crack and the rise of the explosion of mass incarceration, expansion of religious freedoms which we just talked about, so many of the men narrate their story before and after the raid. why does this rate matter so much? not just for your story but these men's lives. >> guest: thank you so much. because what i fear, what i fear in the day-to-day, of engaging in the day-to-day, is that you could lose the contingency and the artificiality of the day-to-day come and that the
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world you find at graterford is one of many. and i think without dispute is not the best of all possible worlds. said even as i engage in the debate i want to get a sense of a genealogical sense of how the day-to-day was manufactured. and often, you know, manufactured brutally. and so i tell this history of the evolution of islam marathon in certain ways to the history of the rights of mass incarceration. and principally, and the raid is kind of the essential event of that. so up to the mid '90s you had this tremendous kind of openness, religious freedom. you had down in the chapel to the three mosques that were below the chapel in the basement, where there was a tremendous amount of autonomy. some of that was used beautifully, and there were all
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sorts of studies going on every day of the week. it was a really vibrant intellectual culture from what i understand. there was also overstepping the boundaries. there was criminal activity. and so certainly by 1995 what existed at graterford and the chop was widely out of step at a time. so you know, 1995 is essentially 20 years into the incarceration boom. less about rehabilitation at that point. it's more about control. tom ridge who will be bush's for some it's a good director runs in 1994 at law and order campaign and he wins. this is when politics in the '90s. willie horton, 1988 essentially no one, no democrat is going to be confused as pro-prisoner, again, right? and bill clinton in 1996 signed the antiterrorism which wildly
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restricts habeas corpus. it's a time where it's only to your advantage to be anticrime, to be anti-prisoner. so up to and including al gore when he runs into thousands has i'm pro-death penalty. why? because i think it's a deterrent. the data might suggest otherwise. so ridge runs and he wins, and he wants to do three strikes you're out law and he wants to tighten parole procedures. and when they come in, they decide they need to send a message to graterford. and graterford, is by the standards what we assume prison looks like, graterford was one of the younger prisoners have referred to what it was before the raid meaning it's what you see on tv. but it's not what you have in day-to-day today in the controlled prison. and so they came in and they destroyed everybody's stuff, and
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they shipped out, they fired staff on the spot the they shipped out their worst of the worst across the state. i across the country in some cases, and it was just a new reaching. so graterford is still much looser and more needle placement of institutions, but a lot changed after that the mosques were clothes downstairs and a cinderblock structure called the nx was built and that's where it takes place to oppressors who for generations had all sorts of rights eyed to lead their own worship services. they don't have that right anymore. that has to be a chaplain or a phone to present at all time. they use to build have family members come in and worship with them or celebrate holidays within. that's not true anymore. it's not anything, the day in, day out, people are more surprised by what used to be there and what you find there today. and what used to be their strikes people what i described as wildly lack.
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but that's agenda to its hegemony that we now incarcerate so many people in such a restricted way and it's becomes almost unthinkable to us there could be some other way of doing it. >> host: absolutely. we'll have a few more minutes left. i want to ask kind of a twofold question about the personal and the political. you seem to out of the book sort of haunted by the possibility that you might betray the trust these men have given you the act of creating this beautiful book. i won't give away the beautiful final line that you embrace with charles. i wonder, for you, what has, it's not been at least a few years since you've been as regular presence in the prison. what sorts of relationships you are able to maintain with these men? and then on the political front, not to enforce a false binary, what hope our where perhaps
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already do you see your book and your arguments taking on a more political role in terms of various movements in opposition to mass incarceration, you mentioned sort of the critique of stop and frisk just yesterday. so personally where has the book taken you in your afterlife? but then also politically, where do you see the book engaging? >> guest: i'm eager, nina, today is the publication date and i have 10 copies go out in the mail today. i am nervous and i hope that the men at graterford feel like their trust in me wasn't misplaced. one of the ways, one of the point of translation between the kind of religious fee some that is the orientation of summit of the chapel, and my kind of secular ethic, i think you may
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find in a notion of the notion of the fidelity -- the fidelity to an event. that part of that died -- that idea for you are, i accepted christ on such and such a date orook on such a such a day. though the world polls and all sorts of different ways, being to the that event is what makes you an ethical person. and this is such an event for me, right, the time better spent with these men, it seems to me that they gave me a lot. here i am talking about this book, and i owe it to them and appellate to the self that i became and hope to continue to be, to remain engaged. toward the end of my fieldwork people started to encourage me to teach at villanova university as aba program at graterford. i did that. i thought a number of classes in the years that followed through the villanova program.
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is that enough? i don't know. i'm not a perfectionist so i feel like if i've got some kind of responsible practice going, then that's not the worst thing in the world. right now, i'm working on a project with a philosopher and an anthropologist. the working title is break every joke which is language from i say i'm that the abolitionists used and we're going to try and we a conference in the fall. we are writing a book i think in which we're going to try to make public and martial the kind of religious resources that might prove useful in helping to cultivate a mass movement against mass incarceration, i camcan do the kind of mass movet that we had going on 200 years ago against slavery. so, you know, i owe it to myself to be engaged in these
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practices, in some way. >> host: i think we are just about at the end of our time. i want to thank you again for the book, which i think is a necessary -- elucidating as much for the scholar of religion as to any of us who might be concerned with the politics and mass incarceration. so thank you and thank for the opportunity for sitting down today with this conversation. >> that was afterwards. afterwards airs at the weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to and click on
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an nine in the booktv series series of the topics was on the upper right side of the page. >> in the last few years the left has is that the political debate is worthless to cannot going to debate policy, they're not going to debate what is the best way to solve the nation's problems are you going to provide evidence. they're going to label us morally deficient human beings unworthy of debate. >> ben shapiro as nixon is in debt the guest and he will take your calls and comments for three hours live starting at noon eastern and looking ahead, civil rights leader congressman john lewis will be october's guest. kitty kelley on november 3, december 1 christian hoff sommers and on january 5, mark levine. >> george gilder sat down with booktv at freedomfest in las vegas to discuss his most recent book, tranfourteen, which he describes his latest thinking on how capitalism produces wealth
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and benefits society. it starts now on booktv. >> you are washing booktv on c-span2 but were on the location in las vegas at freedomfest which is a gathering of libertarians. and joining us now is a best selling author and economist george gilder. whose most recent book is "knowledge and power: the information of capitalism and how it is revolutionizing our world." how many books have you now written. >> guest: about 17 or something like that. >> host: how is this one different from your previous book? >> guest: this one sums up all my books. ..


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